Sunday, December 11, 2016

Fedco Scion Order. 12.7.18

Porter Apple.  Source:  USDA pomological.  1905.
I'm not sure if I posted this already.  I've added most of the apple varieties that I want to try, but decided on 3 additional scion from Fedco.  Two are repeats of scion that I grafted last year, which grew but not a lot, and I would like more on another tree (King David and Sweet-16).  Those were on a small Winecrisp tree that I may have grafted too soon, planted that tree bare-root in 2016 and also grafted then, plus a deer chewed off half of the Sweet-16 so it is only about 1 inch of stem now.  I had actually forgotten that I already had King David on another multigraft tree.  It took, but the other branches are more vigorous so I want to give it a better start anyway.  I could wait and take scion from that graft, but if I buy one now, that gets me a head start.  I would also like to add a Winesap (early 1800s), and scion from that has been offered to me from another hobbyist.

At this point, I have about all of the apple cultivars that I can keep track of.  Most of my apple trees are now multigrafts with at least 5 varieties per tree, although a few are individual dwarf trees and a few are just beginning to experience my grafting obsession.  I've learned a lot along the way.  The apple growing goals are:

*Mostly disease resistant varieties.
*Mostly varieties that I can't buy at the grocery store.
*Ripening season from July until late October, with storage apples through most of the winter.
*Many varieties for cross pollination, usually within each multigraft tree.
*A chance to taste the same apple varieties that inspired people and gave pleasure for, sometimes,  hundreds of years, at times when there were no grocery chains, import fruits, and minimal food additives.  To savor living history.  To connect my senses with those of actual and historic ancestors, by experiencing the rare pleasure of what they enjoyed.
*A chance to taste some unique flavors and varieties that are not available otherwise.
*To compare experiences with other gardeners and hobbyists.
*To experience tastes from my own garden and orchard, free from corporate homogenization and factory processing.

Some of the descriptions are really colorful.  I doubt that my own taste buds are that sophisticated.  But maybe - this year's apples gave unexpected and delightful surprises.

King David Apple - Fedco description, Orange-Pippin description.  A cross between Jonathan and either Winesap or Arkansas Black.  Intro 1893.  Diploid, precicious, large apples, some disease resistance.  From Fedco on flavors:  "Pineapple, tangerine, lemon, sweet, sour, tart, sharp, aromatic and spicy all rush around simultaneously."   From Apples of North America, King David is described as vigorous, and is a diploid, and disease resistant, so might be a good addition to the new Gravenstein tree.  Gravenstein needs a pollinator because it is triploid, and needs a vigorous variety because it is also vigorous.

Sweet-16 Apple - Fedco description, Orange-Pippin description.  Descended from Northern Spy crossed with Malinda, developed at University of Minnesota. 1979.  Diploid.  Per Fedco: " Fine-textured crisp flesh contains an astounding unusually complex combination of sweet, nutty and spicy flavors with slight anise essence, sometimes described as cherry, vanilla or even bourbon."  From Apples of North America, Sweet-16 is resistant to apple scab, fireblight, and moderately resistant to other major apple diseases.  Vigorous growing and late blooming.   From Apples of Uncommon Character, "a misty explosion of melon and bubble gum, satisfyingly sweet, passingly tart" also described as flavors like bourbon or cherry life savers.  Apples for the 21st Century, "flavor is very unique and sweet-tart cocktail of flavors."

Opalescent AppleFedco description, Orange-Pippin descriptipon.  Per Fedco:  1899.  " Crisp, sweet, tart, juicy—but most of all it’s supremely flavorful."  From Apples of North America, Opalescent has a creamy yellow flesh, crisp, sweet flavor, vigorous, but does have susceptibility to fireblight.  Good storage apple.

Links, plus:
Apples of North America - by Tom Burford - describes 192 varieties, in addition to additional information about growing apples.  Excellent reading about many apple varieties, especially historic apples.
Apples of Uncommon Character - by Rowan Jacobsen - describes 123 varieties, and recipes.  Also excellent and sometimes poetic reading.
Apples for the 21st Century -by Warren Manhart - Reflects the author's 30 years of experience testing over 140 varieties, with 50 cultivars described in the book.


  1. This is really cool - I get most of my bulbs and many of my seeds from Fedco and have been super happy with them, but have yet to get any woody plants from them.

    1. Nic, thank you for commenting. I've been happy with getting scion from Fedco for the past 2 years. Their scion list is a wealth of information about many, mostly heritage, varieties. Some of the scion have been small, but they have all grown. Some, I have not found anywhere else.

  2. You'll be very happy with Kind David, which I used to grew. Opalescent is on my wish list. Just read "Apples of Uncommon Character" which makes me reminiscence about the time that I've 600 apple trees when I was much younger. Grafting time is about a month away and I can't wait to graft more "Golden Russet" which is one of the best tasting one.
    "Cox Orange Pippin" is a very weak apple that didn't produce much and rattle with disease. Winter Banana and the Winter Permain didn't do too well either.
    I've a very small Hudson's Golden Gem about 1 in graft that took very late in the season. What a nice surprise, someone told me its their favorite. So have to wait a yr or so for that promising fruit. Gravestein is a great stock for me; its a good healthy tree. I'll rework and attach better tasting variety on it. This is THE variety on the West Coast.

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  3. Lance, thank you very much for commenting. Grafting is a bit further away for me, but I really look forward to it. Instead of Cox Orange Pippin, I have Queen Cox. QC is either a sport of Cox, or a seedling, which is reportedly self fertile and precocious. For me, Queen Cox bore its first apple at 3 years. I don't have sophisticated taste buds, but it seemed quite delightful to me. Every report on King David made me want to try that one too. Glad you like it. I think Gravenstein will be the best summer apple of all. That is based on all I have read, its history, and the taste I had last summer from fallen apples in the neighborhood. I haven't tried the others you list, but I've read good things about them.

  4. Gravestein have a heavy fruit load even on its off yrs, supposingly a bi-annual barer. The taste is as good as dessert if you let it ripe on the tree. The early picked fruit is fantastic when cooked as in pies. It generates its own festival in Northern CA. I live in Gravestein country. Have many "new" varieties to play with from the scion exchange. Mostly I will graft them on the existing Gravestein.

    1. I wonder of the vigor of the Gravenstein will be passed on to scion that are grafted to it? I suspect yes, to some extent, since the overall tree will make sugars that are transported to the branches. I might be wrong. Since Gravenstein is triploid, I bet the grafts will help it with pollination. I thin yhr young fruit, which might prevent biennial bearing.